If you’ve recently lived through a long power outage, chances are you know what a portable emergency generator sounds like. And we all know it’s hard to get that loud clanking sound out of your head. But why are generators so loud? We’ll answer that question and lead you to some ways to make your generator as quiet as a cricket.

Why Are Generators So Loud?

So….what is making all that noise!?!

There are times I had often wondered why my generator made so much more noise than my huge minivan. They both run on gasoline, but my generator is MUCH louder.

Where is that noise coming from?

A conventional generator is made of many different parts. Below are a few.

  • Engine – This part of the generator converts the fuel source into energy.
  • Alternator/ Gen Head – The genhead or alternator takes the energy created by the engine and converts it into electricity. This is done via the rotor and stator.
  • Voltage Regulator
  • Exhaust system and Cooling system – Air passing through the system can cause a great deal of noise.

The engine and the alternator will likely be making the most noise of the lot. In addition, the higher the wattage generated, the noisier the generator (on average).

Check out our list of the best portable generator options

Mufflers on the Generator vs a Car

So now we know WHY they produce a lot of noise. But cars are pretty powerful too. Why aren’t they noisy.

car muffler

Next, we need to look at what the current noise dampening situation is. When you look at a car, the muffler is the main piece. A car muffler can range in size, but is typically a foot and a half long.

Mufflers are designed to muffle sound waves created by the engine. For that reason, they’re an important part of a noise dampening system.

A generator muffler is typically only a few inches long. The shorter muffler means that the sound isn’t dampened nearly as much as a car’s muffler will.

How to Quiet a Generator

So now we know why they’re louder than a car and why. But how can we make them quieter? If you’re asking yourself how to make your generator quieter, we can help. Here are a few options for lowering the decibel level of your generator.

Tackle the Vibration Problems

Some of the noise you hear is sheer vibrations in and around the generator. There are two approaches you can take to solving these vibration noises.

  • Add additional washers where the engine is attached to the frame. This typically creates noise.
  • Look at where your generator is run. Sometimes the location and material of the ground you’re running the generator on will create noise. For example, if you place your generator on top of a plywood board it will most likely create a lot of noise from the reverberations made below the wood.
  • Attach a longer muffler to your generator. By doing so you’ll dampen the engine noise even further.

Quiet Your Generator By Soundproofing

There are also ways to quiet your generator by using physical barriers. There are some DIY and off the shelf solutions that can help.

It is extremely important to properly operate your generator at all times. Before enclosing your generator in any material or box, be sure the generator is able to operate in a safe manner.

Change the Location of the Generator

First, the best way to not be bothered by your generator is to move it as far away as possible. Now, you’ll want to be conscious of who you’re moving the generator towards. It may be quieter for you, but louder for others.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for many people. This is especially true if you’re using a generator for camping. But if it is an option, this is probably the best step to take first.

Place Sound Deflecting Shield in Front of Your Generator

There are many companies offering solutions to help deflect the sound of a generator away from a specific location.

Quiet Board, for example, is a product that can be used to place around the generator.

Zombie Box, a company that sells soundproofing equipment, has a product called ZWall – Portable Sound Fence that claims to reduce noise by 75%.

Put the Generator in a Box

In addition to just shielding or deflecting sound, you can also build an enclosure entirely around your generator. Again, there are off the shelf options and DIY options.

Some popular off the shelf options are Zombie Box, however if you’re handy it is more cost effective to build it yourself.